04/22/2015 11:56AM

Charity gives diabetic NYRA backstretch workers new shoes


Through an initiative begun by the Backstretch Employees Service Team and with contributions from owners, trainers, and other parties, backstretch workers with diabetes at the New York Racing Association tracks will be getting new work shoes free of charge.

B.E.S.T., a nonprofit devoted to improving the physical health and social well-being of barn-area workers at Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga, treats more than 100 diabetics at its primary-care clinic, and many suffer from severe foot problems.

B.E.S.T. established the “Steps Forward Campaign” and collaborated with three private companies: Team Power Play Racing, a partnership headed by Lewis Mongullezzo, and the Pavilion Grand Hotel and Mingles Restaurant in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., to raise money to purchase the shoes.

“This initiative will provide workers with free, high-quality, new, water-resistant work shoes and socks,” according to a B.E.S.T. press release. “These ‘diabetes-approved’ shoes were selected by B.E.S.T.’s podiatrist to provide workers with a shoe that will keep their feet dry while simultaneously avoiding the irritation of prior existing foot sores. At B.E.S.T., we believe in the adage that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ ”

Anyone interested in donating to B.E.S.T. can contact executive director Paul Ruchames, at paul@backstretch.com.